High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly called "fracking," is viewed by many as an economic engine in Ohio because it can exploit for the first time deeply buried reserves of natural gas. But some farmers see it as an economic threat.While some farmers foresee financial windfalls from lease and royalty payments fromoil and gas companies,othersfear thattoxic chemicals used to break apart shale formationswill poison their land for organic farming.
High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly called" fracking," is viewed by many asan economic engine in Ohio because it can exploitfor the first time deeply buried reserves of natural gas. But some farmers see it as an economic threat.
A 2012 report by researchers at threeOhio universities and sponsored by the Ohio Shale Coalition,a pro-fracking group aimed at maximizing the economic impact of shale gas production in Ohio,concludedthat fracking could generate 65,680 jobs and $4.9 billionof investment in Ohio by 2014.
Some farmers foresee financial windfalls from leases with oil and gas companies, which according tothe economic impact report, were averaging $2,500 an acre, as well as royalties -- ongoing income streams of15 percent of the value of extracted gas.
But other farmers see fracking as a threat to theirway of life because the drilling practice injects millions of gallons of water laced with toxic chemicals and sand at high pressure deep underground tobreak apart shale formations and release the gas.These chemicals could make their land unusable for organic farming, putting them out of business.
Evidence alsosuggests this new drilling technology could contaminate the air, water and soil, and have impacts on public health and our food supply, according to the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), agrassroots coalition of farmers, backyard gardeners, consumers, retailers, educators, researchers and others who share a desire to build a healthy food system that creates economic opportunitiesand safeguards the environment.
"Farmers' livelihoods depend on the integrity of the soil, clean water and pollution-free air," according to OEFFA. "Because of their reliance on the land, farmers are among those most at risk to suffer from the negative impacts of fracking. As the fracking industry grows in Ohio, farmersí concerns are mounting."
OEFFA is telling the stories of four farmers and their experiences with fracking at its website. The organization also is offering residents ways to express their concerns about fracking.